XX By Angela Chadwick Dialogue Books October 4th 2018
When Rosie and Jules discover a ground-breaking clinical trial that enables two women to have a female baby, they jump at the chance to make history.
Fear-mongering politicians and right-wing movements are quick to latch on to the controversies surrounding Ovum-to-Ovum (o-o) technology and stoke the fears of the public. What will happen to the numbers of little boys born? Is there a sinister conspiracy to eradicate men at play?
In this toxic political climate, Jules and Rosie try to hide their baby from scrutiny. But when the news of Rosie’s pregnancy is leaked to the media, their relationship is put under a microscope and they’re forced to question the loyalty of those closest to them, and battle against a tirade of hate that threatens to split them apart…
Imagine a world when you don’t need a man to have a baby, well that is exactly what happens in XX. All you need are two willing women, a test tube and a laboratory. For female couples it is the answer to their prayers, even if the procedure will only ever produce girls.
Journalist, Jules and her partner, Rosie are chosen to be part of the trial but what they do not reckon with is the backlash they face from family, friends, the press and politicians.
XX raised some very interesting questions regarding ethics, equality and press intrusion, and would certainly provoke some interesting debate, particularly if read as part of a book club.
Is it right to play with nature, what are the risks involved and are they worth taking, is it sexist against men, would it belittle them in today’s society, and so on. It certainly made me think, and I can’t say I would be entirely comfortable with the process, even though I firmly believe in same sex parents.
What Chadwick did very well was to provide balanced viewpoints and a vivid portrayal of the effects press intrusion can have, not just on those involved but also those around them.
Whilst Chadwick explained the scientific processes she didn’t bog the novel down with indepth descriptions, merely provided the reader with the facts they needed to understand how female to female conception worked.
XX was also a novel about relationships, the differences we have and what happens if we make decisions just because it would make the other person happy. Jules and Rose seemed to be polar opposites which emphasised their problems, adding some great drama and tension to the novel. It made them question their motives, their love for one another and if, at the end of all this they could provide their baby girl with a family and stability all children need.
Outside characters and influences added even more drama and tension and at times it was more of a thriller than a novel about the rights and wrongs of assisted conception.
I found it hard to categorise XX, to place it in a genre and perhaps it doesn’t need to fit neatly into one, maybe it is just the start of a new tranch of novels, that explore and push the boundaries of science but also provide a glimpse into a future of what could be.
Angela Chadwick has written an interesting, extremely thought provoking debut and I will be very curious to read what she writes next.
About the author
Angela Chadwick is a Hampshire-based English graduate and former journalist who has spent the last decade working in higher education communications.
Her debut novel XX was published by Dialogue Books on October 4th 2018.
Read more about Angela Chadwick at http://www.angelachadwick.co.uk
You can follow the author on Twitter @_AngelaChadwick